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September 20, 2008

Everything Changes When...

I know it sounds so cliche, but everything changes when you have a baby. I guess I'm not really talking so much about the obvious sorts of things, like how you are suddenly responsible for another person, you can't quite as easily up and leave to go out and do something, and the huge interruption to your usual eating and sleeping habits. I don't think anyone can really describe or have an idea what it is like until actually experiencing it.

In any case, I'm referring to changes in my way of thinking. Before Daniel was born, I had though long and hard about the type of parent I might be. Mike and I talked about the way we'd do things, and had agreements on alot of things, from who would get up at night, to where the baby would sleep, to who we'd let get near the baby, and to how we'd deal with particular situations as they arose when the baby got older. So far, we've managed to break so many rules!

The first rule I decided was that the baby would be sleeping in his own room from the start, just so he wouldn't have a chance to get into the habit of sleeping with us. We had the pack-n-play on standby if he was having a particularly rough night and for travel, but we had NO idea we'd be using that as his bed! The first time Daniel came home (for ONE night) we set up the pack-n-play right next to our bed so that we could keep tabs on him while he was under the bili-blanket. It ended up being best anyway since he kept us up all night long anyway, and that first night I was having paranoid thoughts of something bad happening to him (which is another issue of mine all together). I also kept saying that I'd sleep when the baby slept, but I broke that rule so many times, and I kicked my own butt for doing that, looking back on it now.

Which brings me to the second point. Before Daniel arrived, I was very determined to have some time for Mike and I to "figure things out" for ourselves. I was certain that I wanted a few days to ourselves before company arrived to get a chance to learn all of the basics, and wasn't having anyone (however well meaning) jumping in and offering their opinion as to how we should do those things. When Daniel had to go back to the hospital for a few days after we'd been home for only one night, I started to crack a little, and start to wish for a little sleep and someone to just take over some of the basic baby duties. Luckily, in the hospital that 2nd time, I was able to rest for the first time in several days (I was forced to almost...since I wasn't at home and didn't have the typical distractions of home), including being able to sleep for longer than a 4 hour stretch (thanks to the nurses in pediatrics), and bump my total sleep time for the past week into the double digits.

I am such a control freak that when my parents arrived, it was difficult for me to just let go and to have them do what they do and take care of things. Looking back on it, even when Mike's parents were here, I didn't take advantage of their offers of help fully, and I could have used that time to recover. No...instead I didn't relax, probably wore myself out even more a good portion of the time, and once again, I know now what I'd do differently the next time(s) around. I really did need to take it easy, since I think that is maybe why I kept having resurgences of post-partum bleeding for weeks on end. It wasn't until our trip to Montana that I actually got a chance to rest, and got to take Mike's parents up on their offers of help when I was desperate for sleep in the mornings.

The next thing, although somewhat minor, is that I never thought I'd have the feelings that I do about breastfeeding. I went in thinking that, of course, I'd give breastfeeding a shot, and I wanted to make a go of things for at least the minimum amount of time because of cost savings over formula, and the health benefits. If I couldn't, I couldn't. That's why they have formula. I figured at the very least, I'd be able to give the baby SOME. I'd watched all sorts of baby shows and saw how depressed and upset women got when they couldn't breastfeed, so I not only knew it wasn't EASY, but I made up my mind not to take it personally if it didn't come quite so naturally and without difficulty. So when Daniel was having a rough time of things when it came to breastfeeding in the first week or two, I actually had a pretty good sense of humor about it, and I did give things a try, but had the formula bottle there to calm him down if he got too agitated with nursing. Eventually, he got it! And then I wasn't producing.

Enter Reglan. I started taking that after I asked for it at my 6-week post-partum doctor's appointment. And I wish I hadn't been so hesitant to ask about it to begin with! I suddenly went from the mindset that I'd be lucky to get one bottle a day, to say nothing about ever satisfying him for an entire meal off my boobs, to finding out how handy breastfeeding is at night! If only I could have gotten the breastfeeding down (and had the supply) when I was still at home doing the maternity leave thing, I would have been able to make it through the nights a little easier, since I wouldn't have to deal with screaming hungry baby while trying to forge my way downstairs to the kitchen to get him a bottle (and all this while trying to prepare said bottle one handed while holding said screaming baby). Boobs are awesome.

Lastly, I think I've broken my rule of thinking that if I wait long enough, I'll just get over it. I waited for post-partum depression to go away on it's own, and it didn't. I waited for that horrible post-partum bleeding to stop, but I bled bright red for 8 or 9 weeks! I had a problem with the pipes getting clogged up (*cough* constipation) and thought it'd go away, but it didn't! So instead when I wait things out, I end up desperately calling doctor's offices, going to urgent care, etc. That's not to say that I always waited them out, but I did prolong my suffering because I was either in denial about it, or thought I was BOTHERING doctors/nurses.

So the biggest thing that changed...that was definitely my brain :)

Posted by Amy Coon at September 20, 2008 01:39 PM

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